It makes sense that you would want to explore all of your disability benefit options while you are unable to work, especially when it comes to applying for Social Security. But there are many different kinds of aid offered under the Social Security program, and choosing the right type of benefit can save you weeks of waiting for a check that may never come.

The first thing you need to know is the difference between Social Security disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The qualifications for each of these benefits are very different, so you should determine the one you qualify for before you apply.

What Is Social Security Disability?

Social Security disability (SSD or SSDI) is a form of insurance that is available for injured workers who have paid Social Security taxes in their years of employment. To be eligible, disabled you must:

  • Have a physical or mental condition that will last for a year or longer
  • Have paid into Social Security with paycheck deductions for a number of years
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 65
  • Be unable to perform the job you held before you were disabled
  • Be unable to perform any other work


Not only are workers eligible for SSD benefits, but their children, spouses, and widows or widowers may qualify for additional payments during the beneficiary’s lifetime and after his death.

What Is Supplemental Security Income?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a special program that is available for disabled people with very limited resources and income. Unlike Social Security disability, you do not need to have paid Social Security taxes to receive SSI benefits.

You may be eligible for SSI if you have extremely limited assets, income, or other ways to pay your bills. In order to be eligible, one or more of the following must be true:

  • You are 65 or older
  • You are blind
  • You have a child who is blind or disabled
  • You have a disability recognized by the Social Security Administration
  • You are completely unable to work

The biggest factor in determining your SSI eligibility is your income. The Social Security Administration considers any money you receive as income, including wages, pensions, and government benefits. If daily living resources, such as food and shelter, are provided to you, they will be counted toward your income. If you are granted SSI benefits, you may also qualify for additional federal and state aid including Medicaid for your medical costs and food stamps to offset the cost of your groceries.

Do you want to learn more? Spend some time reading the library articles and blog posts on this site for more information, or contact our local disability attorneys. We serve Lincoln, Omaha and beyond; call 402-933-5405 today to learn more.


Timothy J. Cuddigan (Founder - Retired)
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Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience